I lie awake overwhelmed with emotions about this journey I embarked on six months ago but it truly began in 2007. I look back at where it all started and who I was then. In 2007 two very special people came into my life and left a mark on my heart and soul. They both changed me as a person, and helped sculpt me into the strong, determined, and independent person I am today. I had no idea at the time how much of an impact they would have.
The first person I knew for a few years in passing but really became a part of my life in the beginning of 2007. It was from this person that I learned how trust someone, that life was all about taking chances, and learning from our mistakes. This person made me want to be a better person everyday and pushed me to be better. Ironically, this is how I discovered running and continually wanting to improve myself and taking on more challenges. Somewhere after college, for years I got caught up in doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing versus doing what I wanted to do. I discovered what true friendship and love was and I learned how to love myself. No matter where our paths take us, this person is always in my heart and is that voice of reason in my head. I would not be who I am today without them and I will never be or feel lost again.
The second person was born in 2007 and I feel honored to run in his memory tomorrow. He also brought running into my life! I was never a runner and actually hated running, prior to the inaugural Mighty Meehan 5K. Running has changed me and introduced to so many amazing people who I am now lucky enough to call friends and an extension of my family.
I sat at the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge Team pasta dinner this afternoon thinking about how honored and lucky I was to be a part of this team. I was surrounded by 1800 people who lives were or are currently impacted by cancer. They were several people who spoke and each one inspired me more and more.
I don’t think my words can even give this dinner justice, which is probably why I am a police officer instead of a writer. I learned about a fellow teammate who I had previously met and ran with. She stood up in front of us with courage and strength that I only hope one day I could have. She talked about her experience with the team and how she wanted to run with the team again this year. Right as marathon season was starting she was diagnosed with cancer and that cancer will one day take her life and unfortunately sooner than later. Then it was on to the in memory program. They showed picture after picture of young children, whose family were present at the dinner and one of my fellow teammates was running in memory of. Heartbreaking and so real! This is when my teammate got to meet Turlough Meehan! Next came the partner program (if I ever do this again I need to be a part of this). They had numerous kids currently receiving treatment at Dana Farber come up on stage with their running partner, more of my teammates! What a sight! Many of these families, the ones who lost a child and the ones currently fighting a tough battle, will be at mile 25 tomorrow. The kids and their families will be waiting to cheer me on and that is the best part of the day, even better than finishing!
I sat there for three hours thinking how this was just a tiny fraction of the people affected by cancer and it reminded me why I got up and ran through this awful winter. Why I run. I thought about my team racing singlet that I will wear with honor and pride tomorrow with all that it signifies. I sat there at several points with tears running down my face knowing that I have to continue to be a part of the Dana Farber team for the rest of my life!
I sit here thinking about my racing singlet. I have not been able to get its image of my head for days. I think about how Amanda and I had a conversation about adding ribbons to my singlet this year almost a month ago. We both put a request out for names of someone who lost, won or is fighting their battle with cancer. My racing singlet has 128 names. Yes I said 128 names, most who have lost their battle to this deadly disease. We put names on for people who asked, never mind the 40-50 other people we knew that did not ask. Everyone grieves different so I wanted to respect their privacy. Two people and that’s over 175 people who had cancer! There is one blank ribbon to represent the stories and people I haven’t met. I looked at the ribbons last night as I beginning to prepare for tomorrow and cried. I cried because they were all people who were loved and are missed by so many everyday. I will wear that singlet with pride and honor tomorrow! I will treasure it for many years to come. I know it will be all those angels on my back which will get me to mile 25 and then 26.2! Their strength and courage will continue to guide me through life!
So thank you for the endless love, support, encouragement, and hope. Thank you for your donations. Our team has so far raised over $6.2 million for cancer research. I am not sure on my final number but I am pretty close to $13,100. That’s $500 a mile! I will never forget this journey as it has been amazing and life changing! To the Meehan family thank you for letting me become a part of your family!